Let me just put it right out there first: There's no right way to throw a tea party. No matter what Miss Manners says about the proper components of hosting your own tea party, we say if everyone's having a good time, you've done something right.
And we're thinking about this now because lots of people throw holiday tea parties at this time of year. It makes sense — everyone is feeling festive and looking for reasons to get together, so why not serve some tea while you're at it?
I asked some coworkers what tips they'd have for throwing a good tea party, and the answers ranged from what kind of tea to serve (Organic Peppermint, or Mountain High Chai with a cinnamon stick) to holding a tasting of different brands of tea for your guests. That just shows you that we work for a tea company — we're always interested in comparing and contrasting different teas.
So let's just take a balanced approach to your tea party plans: It's about serving great tea and having a nice time with family and friends, so anything else you want to throw in are delightful extras. So here are a few delightful extras you might consider for your holiday tea party:
1. Serve a few different types of tea. Who at your party will know the difference between black, green, white or herbal teas? Maybe since you're serving tea, you can offer several kinds for guests to sip, so they're never bored with what you're pouring.
2. Take a varied approach to food. Serve some savory items like small sandwiches, crudites with dip and spiced nuts, and then offer plenty of little sweet items like cookies, fruit scones, or small tea cakes. What food pairs the best with which tea? You'll have a good time figuring that out.
3. Go with a regional theme. Since tea comes from all over the world, try picking a tea with well-known origins (like a jasmine tea from China) and pairing it with food from that country (like potstickers or dumplings). Or how about Mountain High Chai, with its origin in India, and serving samosas?
4. Serve whole leaf tea, whether that's in sachets or loose. It's a better cup, more visually appealing than any old teabag, and some of your guests will probably never have tried it before. Forget about the dust tea you find in teabags — it just ends up bitter and without a true range of flavor.
5. Throw formality out the window. Why throw another stuffy tea party? Serve tea in mugs instead of tea cups, ask your guests to each bring snacks to share, and play as many tea-related songs as you can think of ("Afternoon tea" by The Kinks, "Tea in the Sahara" by the Police, "Pennyroyal Tea" by Nirvana, and on and on.)
Do you have any other tea party tips for us, conventional or otherwise?